Schweitzer * Richardson * Ritter * Napolitano
Everyone has pet peeves, whether they recognize them as that or not. It might be as small as being left with the cardboard roll of empty toilet paper or an unmade bed, but we all have little dislikes that just needle us to no end. One of mine is the “I told you so” attitude. It drives me nuts when people say or imply it, regardless of whether it’s for a positive or negative thing (such as, “I told you that they love you and you’ll get that job!” or “I told you that you’d burn your tongue if you didn’t let the soup cool”). No matter how small or larger or positive or negative, the sentiment is all about being right as opposed to being kind or supportive or whatever, and what does one get for being right?
That said, I am about to be the person that I can’t stand. I’m going to say I told you so since I feel vindicated in what I’ve been saying for about three years to whoever would listen: we are finally witnessing the decline of the so called Southern Strategy for Democrats winning the Presidency and the rise of the independent West. For decades, democratic pundits and operators have said that candidates needed to be either from the South (LBJ, Carter, Clinton) or have a running mate from the South (hence Kerry’s pick of Edwards) to win southern votes and the presidency. Not only did I hate that sort of pandering to conservative aspects of the Democratic Party (read racist) but I also thought that it sold short many parts of the county.
Call it the resultant mix of my intuition, intimate knowledge of state legislators across 50 states, and many years of political science education, but I’m proud to say that I saw this coming, this being the slow rise of Democratic leaders and larger democratic voting blocks in the American West. Looking at the electoral map, it wasn’t simply that Obama won Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, which went to Bush in 2000 and 2004. But look at the vote in Montana, Nebraska, Arizona and North and South Dakota (!) which slid towards Obama in the last days of the election. Westerners have a specific regional culture that can appear quite contrary if you didn’t grow up with it. It is anti-establishment and anti-government but has a live and let live quality (see New Hampshire as the East Coast aberration). But there is also that pioneer, help thy neighbor, communal bent, which has often translated into social conservatism because of the role going to church and religion play in daily lives, but it can also come out as, we’re all in this together, so let’s get that barn built! While an increased latino vote in Colorado and New Mexico and a growing black vote in Nevada definitely helped Obama, those groups are still outnumbered by white folks, who also voted overwhelmingly for Obama.
Before people elected Obama, they elected moderate democrats as governors – in Arizona (Janet Napolitano), New Mexico (Bill Richardson), Colorado (Bill Ritter), and Montana (Brian Schweitzer). While staunch progressive democrats may not see these moderates as victories, remember that most change, whether it’s from within or without, is incremental in nature.
So join me in continuing the post-election celebration and raise a glass to the bluing of the West, and if you’re feeling generous, an acknowledgement of my rightness!